Hornets hope to end skid at Montana State

Jeremiah Martinez

Heading into this weekend’s matchup against Montana State University (2-2, 1-1 in Big Sky Conference) on a four-game losing streak, Sacramento State (1-4, 0-2 in Big Sky) linebacker Darnell Sankey said the Hornets can’t dwell on the past.

He also said they can’t focus on the nine-game losing streak to the Bobcats.

“That’s in the past, it doesn’t really mean anything,” Sankey said. “What we need to do [going] forward is no matter who we play against, we just need to go into every game with the same mentality and that is [to] dominate in all three phases of the ball.”

Montana State is currently ranked No. 18 in the Football Championship Subdivision top-25 coaches poll.

Sac State’s last win against Montana State was on Nov. 6, 2004 in a 38-28 victory at Hornet Stadium.

In three of the last four seasons, games between the Hornets and Bobcats were decided by three points, including last year’s 59-56 loss at Hornet Stadium.

“Last year, we had the chance to beat them,” said Sac State receiver Nnamdi Agude. “They don’t strike fear in us [and] we take it as a game we could win.”

Agude’s production on the field has gone lower than last season when he posted 70 receptions for 1,156 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in 2014.

This season, the senior has 16 receptions for 204 yards and has yet to score.

His limited production could be due to playing in a run-oriented offense, but Agude said that’s no excuse for his play on the field.

“I could be better,” Agude said. “I put it on me to step up and make plays.”

In last weekend’s 27-20 loss to the University of Northern Colorado, the Hornets outgained the Bears 438-179, but gave up three non-offensive scores.

Sac State coach Jody Sears said stats don’t matter heading into this weekend’s matchup.

“At the end of the day, we preach all day long about penalties and turnover margins,” Sears said. “We have to continue to keep pounding it and keep improving on those two areas, especially on our way to Montana State because if you turn that ball over, you give Dakota [Prukop] a couple more opportunities, it’s going to be a long day.

Prukop is the quarterback of Montana State’s high octane offense, who are averaging 578.3 yards per game, which is good for fourth best in the Football Championship Subdivision.

The junior has led a passing attack that averages 352.3 yards per game, which is good for fourth most in the FCS.

“Obviously, he’s one of the premier players in the country,” Sears said. “I defer to keep our focus on him, as opposed to ourselves because we’ve got some things to clean up. In order for us to have a chance this Saturday, we’ve got to take care of minor details.”

Sankey said it’s important to create turnovers on defense against an elite offense in Montana State.

“We need to focus on turnovers,” Sankey said. “[We] have to attempt to hit the ball out, that’s the main thing.”

Saturday’s game against Montana State is slated for a 4 p.m. kickoff at Bobcat Stadium.